Monday, 3 March 2014

And as the Sea gave, shall the Sea take away

Out in the straits, ships sail on in grey smoke: some with decks empty, some with men checking ropes, and one with a milling crowd taking their last glimpses. Each passing bow wave, rolling over a grey sea flecked with white, sighs on pebbles ,stretched out to muddy patches of harsh grass held back by a rock wall. Overhead, a seagull screeches, falling behind me towards the wooden framed house, where a lit window beckons in the early morning gloom. Five ships have drawn by and away since I rose to sit in the cold wind and remember a child not of mine, but one I loved. As always too soon he becomes a man, losing all innocence except hope. On birthday mornings. I would wake him with a tray made of sea-shore wood piled with a plate of scrambled eggs and the tea in a cracked bull mug. On a full moon, laughing together, it would be thrown high over the beach into the sea. In the mornings, alone on the shore, I would search for another year or to learn if the sea called. When he stirred, I would straighten the eiderdown and then sit on the nearby bench, moving aside his clothes. Sitting up, he would smile and reach for the tray. He always ate quickly before slowly sipping his tea, in silence. When ready we talked according to the mood of the sea: slow some days, others with stories taller then a mast. All the time I ignored the paintings and drawings; some of sailors weeping, others of ships, some with oars, some with sails, breaking apart in wild waves, and others of women like bleached bones on the beach looking out to sea. Some were by him but most were by the others who had rested here. Once they told my future but it was my past that betrayed. A husband dead, a sister dust - both mere words - when once one a chesty laugh and the smell of wood smoke and the other a giggle over secrets and gossip. And I had no child to comfort me. I prayed to the Gods, bled the Bull, and threw doves to the wind. Then on the day of storms, the sea gave me a son, his skin water soft and his breath of mist. I asked not the price. Then when my skin grew to wood bark, my teeth fall as autumn seeds and breasts became bloated baskets, the sea came for me. And my grandchildren found only the sea-spray of a hot summer’s day. Since then, many have seen my eyes and felt my embrace and learnt that no lamp window waits. Yet I keep some safe for women wearing the water of a child. Those children find me. At last the sun breaks away clouds and the light in my window dims. The cup with bull fresh and bold is taken out of my coat and I throw it up and over muddy grass and the sighing pebbles. It soars over the sea that is turning blue and falls towards the distant ships ready for its return.

30 comments:

  1. Thanks for starting this beautiful post on First 50 Words and linking to the ending here on your own blog. That's exactly what I hope happens with the writing prompts on my blog. Thank you for writing with me. Thank you for sharing this lovely piece of writing.

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    1. Yes I've moved back to a focus on story from poetry so I hope to do more

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  2. Such a sight,,,the sea, the wood smoke...it's as if I'm right there. I appreciate what you have written!

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  3. Wow..the sea, the ship, the high grass, the rock wall, the wood smoke, full moon, wild waves...I really picture it and feel as if I am right there. I really appreciate what you have shared & captured in your writing today! Well done!

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    1. Thanks, I can't work out how to visit you so apologies

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  4. I need to bookmark this and remind myself of what I love in all of poetry and what an admirable and fantastic poet you are. Thank you!

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  5. i like the approach in this john...the first setting the scene there by the sea, i love the ships....an interesting character you have created as well...the sea giving the son with soft skin carries a bit of magic with it...that whole 4th paragraph....

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    1. Thanks, I framed the opening as I panning shot that starts at sea, zooms in and then over her head.

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  6. "losing all innocence except hope"
    yes, this.
    hope remains, tenacious

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  7. This is a story that moves through mystery and longing. I love the image of being foam on the surface of the sea, that to me rings of HC Andersen... Really like a poetic fairy.tale you give us.

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  8. this was an epic tale rich in detail, I think the sea appeals to a part in us - it's vast and mysterious, similar to the human psyche.

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  9. Love the woman who lives by the sea....watches ships...great story of her struggles, her loves, her becoming "seaspray"

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  10. You brought out the magic of the sea and the waves. It impacted directly to human behavior of wanting to be together but struggling just the same.. Wonderful shot John!

    Hank

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  11. For some reason i imagined your words as a lighthouse..over looking the sea..and the silent experience..that could be the lighthouse..monumentally serving as direction to those who search for a way lost from the sea...

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  12. I love yours...you make me want to try again! I am forever smitten with the sea and you painted it so vividly

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  13. What a wonderful tale you told and such a beautiful write - I am in awe of it.
    Anna :o]

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  14. Beautiful approach to the subject matter, an incisive use of language, and no less poetic for the form being prose.

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Welcome and thanks for dropping in. I'll pop by yours by and by.

This blog was inspired by First 50 words where you freewrite from a single word prompt. I use random words or images to create flash fiction in formats ranging from twitter postcards to short short stories.